Jeremy Harper – Arkansas Coaches Want Wins


 Countering a Culture of Low Expectations

Recently, the Arkansas State football program conducted a head coaching search. (Actually, four of them, but who’s really counting?) During each search, there were a number of familiar names bandied about, including UCA’s Clint Conque, UofA’s Tim Horton, Henderson’s Scott Maxfield, and various local high school coaches, including The Coach Who Never Punts.

“Maybe it’s time they were given a chance!” one local radio host thundered.

Interestingly, the University of Arkansas conducted nearly as many head coaching searches during this time, and those names were never mentioned. Never.

It’s not to say that those well-qualified men didn’t deserve a shot at a big head coaching gig. They do. But there is an attitude in Arkansas that the collegian coaching positions in this state are stepping stones for local talent. All programs, except one.

Last year, when the University of Arkansas was looking for a new Defensive Coordinator, many names were submitted, including John Thompson, who lead several A-State defenses (and a couple GoDaddy teams) with uncanny genius. When Thompson’s name was mentioned as a candidate for Arkansas’ DC on a Little Rock radio show, one personality paused and said, “Well, probably not as defensive coordinator. Maybe linebackers coach.”

For some reason, there are people who find it dismaying that UALR has hired a basketball coach without Arkansas ties. It didn’t seem to matter that Stan Heath and John Pelphrey were without Arkansas ties. It doesn’t matter that Bret Bielema is without Arkansas ties, nor is the guy who hired him. But it’s a scandal that four coaches with Arkansas ties were passed over for Chris Beard, a Division II coach with a knack for crafting programs out of nothing.

Let’s clear the air. Let’s get something straight. Let us all come to Jesus right now. Programs like A-State and UALR and Arkansas Tech or any school not University of Arkansas are not training wheels for local talent. These universities are in this to win. To build a fan base. To elevate their schools. And they will hire the best man or woman for the job. Period.

The University of Arkansas Athletic Program is constantly boasting about the fantastic condition of its finances. If you like locals so much, make a position for them. You can afford it.

arkansas stepping stones

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